Pros: The book doesn’t feel at all like a repetition of the previous two.
Cons: The ending that wraps up the series felt EXTREMELY abrupt, and somewhat unsatisfying.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
After having taken on and defeated agents of Tantalus, Selene is left with her soul polluted. An unsung heroine of London, she is put into a deep sleep and guarded by the Raven warriors in the Tower of London while her fellow Shadow Guards work frantically to find a cure for her. After the administration of a test vaccine, she wakes up on the streets of London with a knife in her hand and a dead woman at her feet. Lord Avenage is ordered to remove her from London so that her guilt or innocence may be determined. Although their time together sparks feelings that each would rather not acknowledge, they are only two of a powerful order, without resources other than each other. Selene and Avenage will need to trust each other, because they have not escaped their enemy’s notice…
I had a hankering this week for something Egypt-related to read, and was thrilled to find “Darker Than Night” still in my review pile to be read. This is the third (and apparently final) book in the Shadow Guard series, and is the story of Selene, twin to Alexander of the previous book and both children of Cleopatra. I have to admit, when I sat down to read it I was afraid that it would feel so similar to the first two books to be formulaic, but I was glad to see that would not be the case.
The book picks up a couple of weeks after the last book ends, and things are still slightly chaotic in London, with the Shadow Guard still wary of attacks by Tantalus. Instead of another intense novel of murder and mayhem in Victorian London, however, we follow Selene and Avenage out to the country where she should be safer from Tantalus’ call and able to recover her strength and powers. (They have disappeared with the administration of an experimental cure for the Transcension that Selene took on in the previous book.) The setting works not only as a change of pace, but also to highlight the contrast of Selene’s power and responsibility with elements of herself that she keeps tightly buried. It also gives her and Avenage room to develop their romance in relative peace and quiet.
Don’t let the setting decieve you, though. Ms. Lenox does an absolutely phenomenal job of weaving a subtle element of suspense throughout the whole book. I kept my breath held, waiting for the other shoe to drop and Tantalus to reappear. And when danger did arise, I was pleased to see that my hypotheses had been completely wrong. I do have to say, though, that the subtle tension that I felt throughout the book might not be there for those readers who are reading this book first. The prior knowledge of Tantalus’ capabilities leaves so many more opportunities for disaster open.
I also enjoyed watching Avenage and Selene dance around each other, reluctant to give in to their feelings. I don’t always have patience with heroes that take most of the book to confess their Deep Dark Secrets, or with heroines who have Troubled Pasts, but again following the trilogy from start to finish gave me a much better idea not only of some of the things that Selene had experienced, but of the soul-hardening sights that the Shadow Guard sees during duty. It makes those emotional barriers feel much more genuine than those of a rather spoiled rich aristocrat.
The one thing that really detracted from my enjoyment of the book was the ending. While the ending felt fairly quick, the Avenage/Selene resolution came first and I actually thought that the series would go on for a few more books, until everyone rushed off in the last pages to neatly tie up the entire trilogy. I have to confess, for an adversary as soul-suckingly evil as Tantalus, I thought that the ending would be a lot more epic. Instead, it almost felt tossed in as an afterthought. I was left wondering why the struggle had lasted over three books if he was so easy to defeat.
Despite the abrupt ending, I did enjoy the book and finding out Selene’s story. Watching her shed some of the hurt and walls from the things she had been through was extremely rewarding, without feeling as if those barriers were overly dwelt on. The country setting makes for a nice change from madcap London adventures, and allows the reader to really watch the transformation that the characters are undergoing. For those who want to read this book, though, I really would recommend reading the first two books first. You’ll avoid getting lost in the mythology, as well as have a better understanding of why these characters think and act the ways that they do.